Extracorporeal shock wave treatment of humeral nonunion: A case report

Pietro Ciampi, C. Scotti, G. M. Peretti, G. Fraschini

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Fracture of the humerus represents a common problem among the young and elderly populations. Although humerus fractures usually heal uneventfully, nonunions can sometimes occur. We present a case of humeral nonunion managed with shock wave therapy in the outpatient setting. A 62-year-old woman with a closed comminuted fracture of the proximal third of the humerus came to our attention 6 months after the trauma with a hypertrophic nonunion. Radiographs showed a hypertrophic callus with a fracture gap of 4 mm. We performed ten shock wave treatments in the outpatient department, with an interval of 60 days between each single treatment. Each session consisted of 2000 impulses at 0.86 mJ/mm2 applied in two planes. No anesthesia was given during the treatment. The patient received a sling to support the treated arm during the first days following each treatment. Follow-up assessment by radiographic and physical examination, performed after 4 weeks and at 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months, showed complete bony union and cortical bridging, achieved at the end of the treatment. We believe that this method is a safe and effective alternative to surgery for the treatment of chronic hypertrophic nonunions. Moreover, in case such treatment is unsuccessful, subsequent surgery is not precluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-45
Number of pages4
JournalSport Sciences for Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Fracture
  • High-energy shock waves
  • Nonunion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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